Subtle help for sensitive children

Posted on June 19th, 2017 - Fiona

Being sensitive, anxious or self aware is a common feeling for everyone. I bet even the most confident person can think of a time or a situation that has left them feeling a little awkward or uncomfortable. For some children these times are more common and familiar than for others. A little subtle help for sensitive children to boost their confidence and help them feel more comfortable ad less overwhelmed in social situations can come in many forms.  Parental support, good friends, preschool leaders, toys and so forth. I often see a child at here on holiday that is less confident than the others, hanging back on the feed run with their parents and watching in awe of the outgoing kids.  With encouragement and time over the week on holiday, the sensitive and cautious children usually come to join in and be a part of the group, watching these transformations melts my heart.

Natural childhood play in the trees at Coombe Mill Holidays

Long Hat is a Hero

When Scrivo Media asked me if I’d like to review the new children’s book Long Hat is a Hero aimed at helping sensitive children I could instantly see the nature connection with the farm and relate to the story and the issues it tackles.

Long Hat is a gnome who feels sad. He is overwhelmed by his peers in his beautiful woodland home and struggles to understand how he is feeling. His owl friend comes to the rescue and turns Long Hat’s sensitivity to an advantage with a clever plan.

Pages from Long Hat is a Hero for Sensitive Children

What I like about the book

The story itself is delightful. It is uplifting, positive and easy to relate to tackling childhood sensitivity though relatable woodland characters. It is a subtle approach that is very clever and I believe will appeal to children.

What I feel could be improved

I think the book would benefit from being 50% bigger in size with larger writing. Currently the writing is very small to read. The illustrations are good and the ratio of writing to illustrations feels right, it could just do with being scaled up. That said the story message is compelling and as the book isn’t too long it will still hold a child’s attention.

Need to know

Win a copy of Long Hat is a Hero for a sensitive children

Win Long Hat is a Hero for sensitive children

If you know a child prone to sensitivity, anxiety and feeling overwhelmed in social situations, this book could be a valuable and discrete way to help them. To enter to win a copy of the book, follow the instructions below.

Long Hat is a Hero


I was sent my copy of Long Hat is a Hero for the purpose of this review. Our Coombe Mill copy can be found in the reading snug of Polzeath lodge, a lovely quiet spot to take in the story. All thoughts and opinions on the book are my own.

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Mini Travel Games from Orchard Toys

Posted on June 12th, 2017 - Fiona

Travelling with kids can be tiring and leave you feeling like you have packed everything bar the kitchen sink for a few days away. Orchard Toys specialise in educational games for children and have now come up with the perfect travel companion; a range of mini travel games. These games won’t fill your suitcase, they won’t break the bank to buy and they will keep the kids entertained in the car, on a plane, at your destination or even just on a rainy day at home. What’s more the games are based on childhood classics of yesteryear and require no technology, so ideal for a camping holiday or those wilderness destinations with no wifi. If these sound of interest to you read on for your chance to win 3 different mini travel games with me.

The range of Mini Games

Learning made fun

Like all the games from Orchard Toys these mini travel games aim to make learning fun. Build counting skills, memory, visual recognition identification, problem solving and how to be a good team player. The games are aimed at age 3 – 6. We put two of the games to the test with preschool children at the lower age range staying here on holiday.

Llamas in Pyjamas

Since llamas are very similar to the alpaca we have here on the farm I thought this would be a fun one to try.

Llamas in Pyjamas Game


The game is a more complex version of pairs played with 2 to 4 players. I thought it might be too tricky for our 3 year olds; however with a little help and encouragement they managed a full game played by the rules at the start of our activity hour and even wanted a rematch at the end!

Playing @orchardtoys Llamas in Pyjamas with fast learning preschool children here on the farm. #countrykidsfun #farmholiday #coombemill #holidayfun #farmfun #farmstay #childhoodunplugged #funseekingkids #happykids #outdoorsandhappy #outdooradventures #learningthroughplay #adventureisoutthere #learningbydoing #boardgames #educationaltoy #educationalplay

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Little Bug Bingo

I thought this one was a little easier. Based on the traditional bingo game players try to match bugs and insects with their bingo board.

Little Bug Bingo Game

It is a fun way to learn of the mini beasts that inhabit our countryside. We used the game ahead of an activity session based on pond studies and later looked for the creatures from the bingo game around the Coombe Mill Lake. Again the game was perfect for holding the children’s attention.

Playing little bug bingo from @orchardtoys this afternoon. Great from age 3 upwards #letthembekids #education #learningbydoing #learningthroughplay #boardgames #bugs #insects #minibeasts #curiouslittleexplorers #CountryKidsFun

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Need to know

Games in the series12
Price per game£4.99
Suitable for Age 3 – 8
EducationalTeacher Tested
Players required2 – 4
Made from100% recycled board


Win your choice of 3 Mini Travel Games with Orchard Toys and Coombe Mill

For your chance to win 3 of these lovely educational games just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.

3 Mini Travel Games from Orchard Toys


We were sent our 2 games for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. Our two mini travel games are available to borrow here on holiday from our Games Room.


Lift-the-flap and colour book series

Posted on June 5th, 2017 - Fiona

Here at Coombe Mill we love to encourage education that is fun and creative. Our weekly activity hour is based around just this, making the most of the outdoors whilst learning and developing young minds. I have worked with Quarto Kids on many occasions as I know their books are designed to make learning a joy for children. Their nonfiction books always have a clever slant that makes kids want to learn. The latest Lift-The-Flap and colour books have been published in association with the Natural History Museum to inspire young minds about the ocean, jungle, forest and African animals. Each book has 5 scenes to colour and simple facts to read aloud. Lift the flaps on every page to reveal the full story and make learning fun. Read on for your chance to get your hands on a set.

Lift the Flap and Colour books

What we thought about the Lift-The-Flap and Colour books

We used the ocean book as part of our water themed activity hour. I first read the story to the children who were all age 2 to 4. It was fast paced enough to capture their imagination

Reading the colour and fold book

Afterwards they choose which page to colour in together.

The thick black outlines are perfect for little hands just learning dexterity and the art of colouring between the lines and the matt finish is ideal for crayons, felt pens or paint for a careful hand. When the colouring is complete, the black and white pages spring to life.

Colouring in and paints

I’m already lining up a forest themed activity hour with the children here next, taking advantage of animals here on the farm. There is a lovely page about deer which tells you not to go too close, something we are always reminding the children here on the morning tractor rides.  

Deer pages

Need to know

About the Lift-the-flap and colour books
  • 5 scenes to read and colour in every book
  • Simple facts to accompany every page
  • 4 books in the series
Suitable fromage 2+
Retail price£5.99
Available fromQuarto Knows
Illustrated byAlice Bowsher
Published in association withthe Natural History Museum


Win your Lift-The-Flap and colour books from Quarto Kids and Coombe Mill

If you fancy a set of these delightful colour in books just follow the instructions below. Good luck to all taking part.

Lift-the-Flap and Colour Books from Quarto Kids


We were sent our Natural History Lift-the-flap and colour books for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Make a splash this summer with Aquaplane

Posted on May 29th, 2017 - Fiona

The importance of Water Safety

Here at Coombe Mill with a river and two lakes we know just how important water safety is. In the summer season the children love to play in the river and providing the current is gentle enough it is something we encourage. For our younger guests we try to keep a few arm bands and floats in our boot room to borrow alongside the wetsuits as a little extra security for parents. Even when the river isn’t suitable to swim in here we have a link up with our friends at Camelford Leisure Centre where Coombe Mill guests can swim in a full length heated indoor pool free of charge. The Camelford Pool has a life guard on duty but it is still the responsibility of the parent to ensure their child is safe in the water at all times. For non swimmers a swim aid such as Aquaplane is peace of mind for holiday fun.

Playing in the river at Coombe Mill

Aquaplane: The New Swim Aid

Move over arm bands, there’s a new swim aid come to kick you into touch! Aquaplane is the brain child of swim instructor Chris Shore, who has coached many championship swimmers, and he says:  

 ‘It’s all about feeling confident and safe. Aquaplane straps to a child’s back, leaving their arms free from resistance, enabling them to stretch out in the water, and achieve the correct body position naturally and easily’.

Aquaplane is perfect for building water confidence and a feeling of being able to float with limbs free to splash, however it also adapts to take a child through all the different stages to further their swimming techniques as Chris explains:.

 ‘Aquaplane will help a child to learn to swim on their back, too.  The wide & low profile enables the learner to have more balance and the patented design gives a superior streamlined position compared to all other swimming aids.

Once your child is through the early stages of development, you can then remove the straps and Aquaplane can be used as a kick board to enhance stroke development.

As further progress is achieved, Aquaplane turns into a performance tool to build stamina and strength.’


Aquaplane swim aid for children

What we thought of Aquaplane

We put Aquaplane to the test with a family staying with us who were going swimming at Camelford.  The girls at age 4 had already mastered the beginnings of swimming and used the Aquaplane as a float. This is what their Mum had to say on their return:

When we got to the pool they both tried the aqua plane as a float to practice kicking, it worked well and the girls enjoyed it. They loved the rocket shape and it was comfy for them to hold. I was also amazed at how quickly it dried.


Aquaplane the new swim aid used as a float


The following week the Aquaplane was borrowed again, this time using the straps to allow freedom for arms as well as legs whilst giving body support. I asked the Mum how she found the product and she told me:

“The straps adjust easily to ensure the float fits comfortably and securely in place giving our daughter confidence to splash.”   


Aquaplane swim aid with straps in use at Camelford Leisure Centre

Need to know Facts for Aquaplane:


Pack contents   Float and 2 body straps
Suitable forchildren aged from 3 upwards
Endorsed byTwo luminaries in championship swimming – Chris Shore, Chris Cooke (Team GB Athens ’04 and Beijing, ’08) as well as swimming instructor and Commonwealth Games team member, Dan Coombs (Delhi’10)


Win your Aquaplane Swim Aid with Hippychick and Coombe Mill


Win an aquaplane swim aid


If you know someone learning to swim this summer that would benefit from an aquaplane, why not enter to win. Simply follow the instructions below.



We were sent our aqua plane from Hippychick for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own and those of our visitors who tested it for me. Our Aquaplane is available for Coombe Mill guests to borrow from the boots and wetsuit room.

Colour in Superhero or Unicorn Cape

Posted on May 22nd, 2017 - Fiona

Here at Coombe Mill we love to encourage children to use their imaginations and be creative, from raiding dressing up boxes to joining in our popular arts and crafts sessions. When Prezzybox offered me the chance to test one of their colour in cape products from the Selfie clothing company I knew at a glance this would go down well with the children staying here. My only dilemma was whether to choose the Superhero or Unicorn cape design.  We plumped for the Unicorn but read on for your chance to win one of your choosing or take advantage of their current sale price.

Win a Unicorn Cape

Unicorn colour in Cape

This cape is made for children who love to be creative, whether you are purchasing as a gift or as entertainment for a party or play date you won’t go wrong with this fun colour in and wear cape. Work alone or in a group to colour in sections to your own choice of colours then transform into a unicorn to zoom around the house or garden.

What's in the tin

What we thought

I approached a group of children out playing here on the farm who were eager to come and test out our unicorn cape. A few had to go to lunch but returned at break neck speed to join in. It was team work at its best as everyone took turn with colouring pens and areas of the cape to colour.


Finally they declared the cape finished and began to race up and down the bank in turn with the cape swishing out behind them.

Running in the cape

I left them as they disappeared off to play Unicorns in the Fairy Gardens, a cape inspired adventure!

Playing in the Fairy Garden

Need to Know


Handmade and hand printed in the UK

One size jersey cloth cape made of cotton / polyester blend

Includes ten fabric colour in pens

Velcro fastening to reuse

colour in practice sheet

Dimensions 0cm x 66.5cm x 78.0cm
Suitable for ages 2-10
Price £25 currently on sale for £19.99 at Prezzybox
Manfacturer Selfie Clothing Co


Win your Colour in Superhero or Unicorn Cape with Prezzybox and Coombe Mill

Win a Superhero or Unicorn cape

If you know a creative child or two that would enjoy colouring in and wearing this fun cape why not enter to win, simply follow the instructions below.

Unicorn or Superhero Colour in Cape


We were sent our Unicorn cape for the purpose of this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own. The unicorn colour in cape made a very happy afternoon of creative fun for a group of children on the farm.  


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